On a night where there was nearly as much scoring in the stands as there was on the diamond- at least from the A's standpoint- the Chicago White Sox went to great lengths to seize the series opener, 6-2.
Jim Thome's three-run blast in the eighth inning off Santiago Casilla was the big blow. It was the 550th homerun of his career.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen rearranged his starting pitching before the game, pushing tonight's scheduled starter Bartolo Colon to tomorrow, with Gavin Floyd moving up in line.
Matt Holliday was most appreciative of the switch.
The A's cleanup hitter crushed a Gavin offering with a man on and two out in the first, for a quick 2-0 lead. He added a double in the fourth. Aside from those two hits on consecutive Holliday at-bats (and a single by Jack Cust preceding the homerun), Floyd allowed no other runners until the seventh.
Chicago halved the score with a run in the bottom of the first as starter Trevor Cahill found himself in immediate peril by walking leadoff batter Scott Podsednik and giving up a single to Alexei Ramírez to put runners at the corner bags before getting an out. Jermaine Dye's sacrifice fly plated Podsednik to make it 2-1, before Cahill got out of the inning with a little help from his new best friend.
After Thome went down on strikes, Paul Konerko lifted a fly ball that seemed harmless enough at first, but then looked as if it might leave the yard. That's when Holliday made like Ryan Sweeney with a leaping catch to preserve the lead.
The A's advantage continued into the fifth when A.J. Pierzynski homered off of Cahill to tie the game. Meanwhile Floyd was mowing ‘em down until the seventh, when he sandwiched two walks around an Aaron Cunningham single with two outs. With a chance to show up his former team, Orlando Cabrera struck out to end the inning, and Floyd's night (7IP, 4H, 2R, 3BB, 8K).
It was pretty much the end for the A's, too. Matt Thornton took over for Floyd, and struck out the side in the eighth (Kennedy, Cust, and Holliday).
Craig Breslow looked to keep the A's tied in relief of Cahill (5-2/3IP, 3H, 2R, 2BB, 3K). He struck out the first two batters he faced, and retired the first four to grab a bat against him. But it all began to unravel in the eighth with the ever-popular lead-off walk to Podsednik. Breslow (tonight's losing pitcher) was removed in favor of Casilla. After a failed bunt resulted in an out, Jermaine Dye singled, setting up Thome's game-changing shot. The Chisox added another run on a bases-loaded walk.
They celebrated 70's Night in Chicago- but where were these?- and the A's, after a promising start- hit like those teams at the end of that decade to fall to 19-30 on this long and lonely season.
Tomorrow Vin Mazzaro makes his big-league debut.